India: Mumbai introduces WhatsApp chatbot for locating Covid centres

The bot will also provide 80 municipal services relating to schools, civic and health services among others



by

A Staff Reporter

Published: Sat 15 Jan 2022, 3:55 PM

Mumbai has emerged as the first city in India to have a dedicated WhatsApp chatbot set up by the municipal corporation to address a range of issues confronting its citizens.

MyBMC Assist, the chatbox, will provide information relating to 80 services and facilities provided by the civic body and accessible to those accessing it on their mobile phones. They include information about the two-dozen administrative wards, municipal amenities in their neighbourhood, Covid centres, schools, civic and health services, fire stations, the BEST bus operations, gardens and tourist destinations.

Citizens can also register complaints, apply for permissions to celebrate festivals, renew licenses and make payments. The service is available in English and Marathi.

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Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, who launched the service virtually, said that as technology advances rapidly, public officials must consider how these can be used to provide more services to people. The initiative has made work from home even more efficient, he added.

Iqbal Singh Chahal, the municipal commissioner, said Mumbai municipal corporation was the first in India to launch the service, which could solve problems in seconds.

Aditya Thackeray, the guardian minister for Mumbai suburban district, said other civic bodies in Maharashtra should also follow this example.

Government and civic bodies in many parts of the world are deploying chatbots to tackle issues confronting citizens. The move got accelerated after the Covid pandemic set in and citizens got used to the new technology.


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